Berg, Aaron

Dr. Aaron Berg
Professor; Canada Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing
PhD, University of California, Irvine, 2003
519 824-4120 ext. 58514
Hutt 135

Hydrology and remote sensing with applications to agriculture, land-atmosphere interactions and hydro-climatology

Soil moisture is an important component of the global water and energy cycle and in biogeochemical cycling.  Meteorological conditions such as the near surface air temperature, boundary layer mixing heights and precipitation have been shown to depend, in part, on the soil moisture state.  Accurate and timely soil moisture information has numerous applications in agricultural prediction and assessment, weather and climate prediction and streamflow prediction. Together with my research group we explore issues in hydrology using remote sensing and hydrological models.

My current areas of research are associated with following research networks and projects, well qualified students with interests in any of these topics are invited to contact me about opportunities for research funding.

Canada Research Chair Program
Taiga Plains Research Network
Changing Cold Regions Network
Canadian Sea Ice and Snow Evolution Network
The Arctic Snowcover: Sensitivity, Change, and Impacts on Terrestrial Systems, Water Resources and Communities
FloodNet: Development of Canadian Adaptive Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System

GEOG*1300 Introduction to the Biophysical Environment
GEOG*1350 Earth: Hazards and Global Change
GEOG*3420 Remote Sensing of the Environment
GEOG*3610 Environmental Hydrology
GEOG*4110 Environmental Systems Analysis
GEOG*4690 Geography Field Research
GEOG*4990 Independent Study in Geography*
GEOG*6090 Geographic Research Methods
GEOG*6100 Geographic Scholarship and Research
GEOG*6610 Global Hydrology

*Over the past several years I have advised a number of students in independent studies (GEOG 4990). If students are looking for potential research opportunities I have a number of projects related to hydrology or remote sensing available.

Jaison Ambadan, Gordon Drewitt, Nasim Alavi, Tracy Rowlandson, Parinaz Rahimzadeh, Krishna KC, Ehsan Roshani

An up-to-date list of my publications is available on Google Scholar

Clewley, D., J. Whitcomb, R. Akbar, A. Silva, A. Berg, J. Adams, T. Caldwell, D. Entekhabi, M. Moghaddam. A method for upscaling in situ soil moisture measurements to satellite footprint scale using Random Forests. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing. In Press. 2017.

Elshamil, A., G. Taylor, A. Berg, S. Areibi, Domain adaptation using representation learning for the classification of remote sensing images. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing. In Press 2017.

Hachborn, E., A. Berg, J. Levison, J Ambadan*, Sensitivity of GRACE-derived estimates of groundwater level changes in southern Ontario.  Hydrogeology Journal. In Press. 2017.  

Williamson, M., J.R. Adams*, A.A. Berg, C. Derksen, P. Toose, A. Walker. The detection of soil freeze/thaw using soil moisture probes: Implications for remote sensing validation networks. Hydrology Research. In press 2017.

Wrona, E, T.L. Rowlandson*, M. Nambiar*, A.A.Berg, A. Colliander, P. Marsh.  Validation of Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) soil moisture retrieval in an arctic tundra environment.  Geophysical Research Letters, 10.1002/2017GL072946.  In Press 2017.

Colliander, A., T. Jackson, R. Bindlish, S. Chan, N. Das, S. Kim, M. Cosh, S. Dunbar, L. Dang, L. Pashaian, J. Asanuma, A. Berg, T. Rowlandson*, D. Bosch, T. Caldwell, K. Caylor, D. Goodrich, H. al Jassar, E. Lopez-Baeza, J. Martínez-Fernández, A. González-Zamora, S. Livingston, H. McNairn, A. Pacheco, M. Moghaddam, C. Montzka, C. Notarnicola, G. Niedrist, T. Pellarin, J. Prueger, J. Pulliainen, K. Rautiainen, J. Ramos, M. Seyfried, P. Starks, B. Su, Y. Zeng, R. van der Velde, M. Thibeault, W. Dorigo, M. Vreugdenhil, J. Walker, X. Wu, A. Monerris-Belda, P. O’Neill, D. Entekhabi, E. Njoku and S. Yueh. 2017. Validation of SMAP Surface Soil Moisture Products with Core Validation Sites. Remote Sensing of Environment. 191. 215-231.

Gherboudj, I., R. Magagi, A.A. Berg, B. Toth. 2017. Characterization of the spatial variability of in-situ soil moisture measurements for up-scaling at the spatial resolution of RADARSAT-2. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing. 10(5), 1813-1823.

Kim, S., J. J.J. van Zyl, J.T. Johnson, M. Moghaddam, L. Tsang, A. Colliander, R.S. Dunbar, T. J. Jackson, S. Jaruwatanadilok, R. West, A Berg, T Caldwell, M.H. Cosh, D.C. Goodrich, S. Livingston, E. Lopez-Baeza, T. Rowlandson*, M. Thibeault, J.P. Walker, D. Entekhabi, E.G. Njoku, P.E. O’Neill, S.H. Yueh. 2017. Surface soil moisture retrieval using the L-band synthetic aperture radar onboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite and evaluation at core validation sites. IEEE Transactions on Geosciences and Remote Sensing. 55 (4), 1897-1914. 10.1109/TGRS.2016.2631126

Merchant, M.A., J.R. Adams, A.A. Berg, J.L. Baltzer, W.L. Quinton, and L. Chasmer. 2017. The contribution of C-band SAR multi-polarization and polarimetric decompositions to subarctic boreal peatland mapping. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing. 10(4), 1467- 1482. doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2016.2621043

Ouellette, J., A. Balenzano F. Mattia, G. Satalino, S. Kim, S. Dunbar, A. Colliander, M. Cosh, T Caldwell, J. Walker, A. Berg. 2017. A Time-Series Approach to Estimating Soil Moisture from Vegetated Surfaces using L-band Radar Backscatter. IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 55(6) 3186-3193. doi:10.1109/TGRS.2017.2663768

Roy, A., P. Toose, M. Williamson, T. Rowlandson, C. Derksen, A. Royer, A.A. Berg, J. Lemmetyinen, and L. Arnold. 2017. Response of L-Band brightness temperatures to freeze/thaw and snow dynamics in a prairie environment. Remote Sensing of Environment. 191: 67-80.

Wagner-Riddle, K.A. Congreves, D. Abalos, M. Tenuta, A.A.  Berg, S.E. Brown, J. Thomas, X. Gao. 2017. Global importance of soil freeze-thaw induced emissions of nitrous oxide from croplands. Nature Geoscience. 10, 279-283.  doi:10.1038/ngeo2907

Al-Bakri, J.T., L. Brown, W. Nickling, M. Salahat, H. Saoub, S. Khresat, Z. Gedalof, A. Berg. Modelling desertification risk in the northwest of Jordan using geospatial and remote sensing techniques. 2016. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk. 7(2): 531-549 doi:10.1080/19475705.2014.945102

Ambadan-Thomas J., A.A. Berg and W.J. Merryfield. 2016. Influence of snow and soil moisture initialization on sub-seasonal predictability and forecast skill in boreal spring. Climate Dynamics. 47:49–65. doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2821-9.

Burns, T.T., A.A. Berg, J. Cockburn, E. Tetlock. 2016. Regional scale spatio-temporal variability of soil moisture in a prairie region. Hydrological Processes. 30(20):3639-3649. DOI:10.1002/hyp.10954

Champagne, C., T. Rowlandson*, A. Berg, T. Burns*, J. L’Heureux, E. Tetlock, J.R. Adams, H. McNairn, B. Toth, and D. Itenfisu. 2016. Satellite Surface Soil Moisture from SMOS and Aquarius: Assessment of Accuracy for Applications in Agricultural Landscapes. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation. 45B, 143-154. doi:10.1016/j.jag.2015.09.004

Chan, S., R. Bindlish, P. O’Neill, E. Njoku, T. Jackson, A. Colliander, F. Chen, M. Bürgin, S. Dunbar, J. Piepmeier, S. Yueh, D. Entekhabi, M. Cosh, T. Caldwell, J. Walker, X. Wu, A. Berg, T. Rowlandson, A. Pacheco, H. McNairn, M. Thibeault, J. Martínez-Fernández, Á. González-Zamora, M. Seyfried, D. Bosch, P. Starks, D. Goodrich, J. Prueger, M. Palecki, E. Small, J-C. Calvet, W. Crow, and Y. Kerr. Assessment of the SMAP Passive Soil Moisture Product. 2016. IEEE Transactions on Geosciences and Remote Sensing. 54:8: 4994-5007.  DOI: 10.1109/TGRS.2016.2561938

Fuss, C.E., A.A. Berg, and J.B. Lindsay. 2016. DEM fusion using a modified k-means clustering algorithm. International Journal of Digital Earth.  9(12): 1242-1255. DOI:10.1080/17538947.2016.1208685

Garnaud, C., S. Belaire, A. Berg, T. Rowlandson and E. Tetlock. 2016. Hyper-resolution land surface modelling in the context of SMAP Cal-Val. Journal of Hydrometeorology.17: 345–352 doi:10.1175/JHM-D-15-0070.1

Roy, S.K., T.L. Rowlandson, A.A. Berg, C. Champagne, J.R. Adams. 2016. Impact of sub-pixel heterogeneity on modeled brightness temperature for an agricultural region. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation. 45B, 212-220.  doi:10.1016/j.jag.2015.10.003

Shellito, P.J., E.E. Small, A. Colliander, R. Bindlish, M.H. Cosh, A. Berg, D.D. Bosh, T.G. Caldwell, D.C. Goodrich, H. McNairn, J. Prueger, P.J. Starks, R. van der Velde, J. Walker. 2016. SMAP soil moisture drying more rapid than observed in situ following rainfall events. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, DOI:10.1002/2016GL069946

Woodrow, K, J. Lindsay, and A.A. Berg. 2016. Evaluating DEM conditioning techniques, elevation source data, and grid resolution for field-scale hydrological parameter extraction. Journal of Hydrology. 540, 1022-1029. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.07.018

  • The Arctic Snowcover: Sensitivity, Change, and Impacts on Terrestrial Systems, Water Resources and Communities
  • FloodNet: Development of Canadian Adaptive Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System
  • Initialization of Soil Moisture in Climate Models  We are contributing to efforts for understanding the role of land surface soil moisture for improvements to precipitation and temperature forecast skill in subseasonal climate forecasts (at lead times of one month or more).  These efforts target techniques for removing bias in meteorological forcing products, and evaluating data assimilation methods for reducing error in soil moisture estimates.
  • Soil Moisture and Remote Sensing It is clear that any model generated estimate of the soil water state will be subject to error therefore a significant component of my research program has been directed towards the evaluation of soil moisture estimates as predicted by models, from microwave brightness temperatures and through merger in a data assimilation systems. To complete this work we have established two soil moisture-monitoring networks for the evaluation of soil moisture retrieval algorithms, land surface models and data assimilation systems.
  • Applications of soil moisture products As soil moisture products from satellite, and models improve numerous applications of these data sets are possible. One aspect of my research program focuses on the development of applications of soil moisture products for agriculture or watershed processes.

I’m always happy to chat about research opportunities for students with interests in terrestrial hydrology and/or remote sensing. Positions are available for students at the PhD or MSc level. Several funded positions are typically available to students interested in the applied use of GIS and remote sensing for observation of soil moisture (both passive and active sensors), soil freeze thaw processes, and agricultural land management.  All projects provide excellent opportunities for combining field work, laboratory and computer analysis.  We have field sites in the arctic, within boreal forests, and in agricultural regions.  Students with backgrounds in Physical Geography or Geomatics, Physical Sciences, Engineering or Computer Sciences are encouraged to contact me to discuss available projects and funding opportunities.

Graduate Students Supervised

Name Research
M.Sc. 2021 Miller, Bryce Exploration of Evapotranspiration (ET) Sensitivity to Vegetation Indices (VIs) Using Weighing Lysimeters
M.Sc. 2021 Oja, Matilda Understanding Factors Influencing Agricultural Expansion in the Canadian Boreal Forest.
M.Sc. 2020 Chang, Qianyu (MSc) Mapping shrub biomass, Leaf Area Index and rainfall interception capacities in Arctic tundra using L-band SAR.
M.Sc. 2020 Eyre, Riley Examining and Modelling the Relationship between Local Topographic Variation and Crop Yield Potential.
M.Sc. 2020 March, Michael Assessing the Performance of Multispectral Sensors Mounted on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Prediction of Soil Organic Carbon Levels at Field-Scale
M.Sc. 2020 Mardian, Jacob (MSc) Evaluating the Utility of Remote Sensing Time Series Analysis the Identification of Grassland Conversions in Alberta, Canada.
M.Sc. 2020 Shirriff, Katherine Investigation Of Cover Crop Adoption as a Soil Conservation Practice Across Southern Ontario”.
M.Sc. 2019 Kopan, Melisa Examining Multiple Techniques to Interpolate Discrete soil moisture measurements using a large-scale lysimeter facility
M.Sc. 2018 White, Jenelle Characterizing wheat and canola yield sensitivity to the timing and duration of soil moisture extremes observed from microwave satellites.
M.Sc. 2017 Carpano, Olivia Permafrost probability modelling and mapping in southern Northwest Territories and northeastern British Columbia.
M.Sc. 2017 MacDougall, Joshua E. Evaluating linear polarizations from C-band SAR to changes in vegetation and in-situ soil moisture over corn fields in SW Ontario
M.Sc. 2017 Ueckermann, Elené Evaluating the Utility of Remotely Sensed Soil Moisture for the Characterization of Runoff Response over Canadian Watersheds
M.Sc. 2016 Chabot (Cowan), Melanie Characterizing Agricultural Surface roughness using a terrestrial laser scanner: Implications for soil moisture retrieval from remote sensing products.
M.Sc. 2016 Williamson, Matthew A critical evaluation of the Hydra Probe for use in the validation of remote sensing soil freeze/thaw products.
M.Sc. 2016 Woodley, William Investigating the scaling of an in situ soil moisture for satellite validation.
M.Sc. 2016 Wrona, Elizabeth Evaluation of Novel remote sensing techniques for soil moisture monitoring in the Western Canadian Arctic.
Ph.D. 2015 Adams, Justin Active and passive microwave remote sensing of soil moisture: Validation and scaling over an agricultural region.
M.Sc. 2015 Burns, Travis Evaluating The Spatial And Temporal Variability Of Soil Moisture Within The Brightwater Creek Watershed, Saskatchewan, Canada
M.Sc. 2015 Humphrey, Rachel The dynamics of active layer soil moisture over Canadian Arctic tundra in Trail Valley Creek, NT observed in-situ and with remote sensing.
Ph.D. 2015 Manns, Hida Soil organic carbon in soil water content variability; detection and application in agricultural fields.
M.Sc. 2015 Warren, Rebecca Examining the spatial distribution of soil moisture and its relationship to vegetation and permafrost dynamics in a Subarctic permafrost peatland.
Ph.D. 2014 Belanger, Jonathon The role of soil moisture monitoring networks in the validation of remotely sensed soil moisture estimates.
M.Sc. 2014 Merchant, M. Allan Ecological classifications of the Taiga Plains Boreal Zone using Polarimetric SAR.
M.Sc. 2014 Roy, Swapan Role of data simulation in earth sciences.
M.Sc. 2014 Scriver, Rebecca Evaluating the effect of irrigation policies on urban energy budgets using remote sensing.
M.Sc. 2014 Woodrow, Kathryn Isolated Catchment Mapping in Southwestern Ontario Morainal Landscapes
M.Sc. 2013 Fuss, Colleen Increasing digital elevation model resolution using multi-observation, quad-polar, RADARSAT-2 imagery and data fusion techniques.
M.Sc. 2012 Impera, Sarah Validating In Situ Soil Moisture Monitoring Networks for use with Passive Microwave Soil Moisture Products.
M.Sc. 2012 McKeown, Steve Discrimination of agricultural land management practices using polarimetric Synthetic Aperture RADAR.
M.Sc. 2012 Melnychuk, Amie Multi-temporal crop classification using a decision tree in a Southern Ontario agricultural region.
Ph.D. 2011 Champagne, Catherine Assessing agricultural drought conditions using remote sensing
M.Sc. 2011 Powell, Kate Evaluating soil moisture variability using Synthetic Aperture RADAR and LiDAR derived wetness indices.
M.Sc. 2011 Rogers, Jess Remote sensing for the prediction of wind erosion potential.
M.Sc. 2010 Adams, Justin [MSc] Sensitivity of Polarimetric C-band Synthetic Aperture RADAR to Field-Scale Soil Surface Parameters.
M.Sc. 2009 Courtney, Lisa Evaluating the Controls of Soil Moisture Variability within the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS).
Ph.D. 2009 Dumedah, Gift Multi-Objective Calibration of Hydrological Models and Data Assimilation using Genetic Algorithms.
Ph.D. 2008 Alavi, Nasim Data assimilation techniques to improve evapotranspiration estimates.
M.Sc. 2007 Hansen, Dionne N. Soil moisture variability at the regional and Satellite Pixel Scale: Implications for Calibration/validation Networks.
M.Sc. 2007 Koukidis, Eleni N. The sensitivity of the statistical downscaling model (SDSM) to reanalysis products.
M.Sc. 2005 Powell, Luke R. Links Among Climate, Soil Moisture and Grasshopper Populations in Alberta.
Ph.D. Alijani, Zohreh Soil moisture and crop parameters using Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation.
Ph.D. Chang, Qianyu Ice content mapping of permafrost.
M.Sc. Creen, Jay Soil moisture retrieval in the boreal forest.
M.A. MacRae, Heather Soil moisture in the Boreal forest of Saskatchewan.
Ph.D. Mardian, Jacob Drought monitoring and modelling in Canada.
Ph.D. Merchant, Michael Research Interests: Wetland classification and monitoring using remote sensing, geospatial cloud computing, machine learning, and data fusion.
Ph.D. Pardo Lara, Renato Land surface freeze/thaw (F/T) transitions, particularly, landscape F/T signatures acquired from microwave remote sensing satellites in the context of the soil moisture F/T state
Ph.D. Pilger, Neal UAV assessment of viticulture health and soil moisture/nutrient status in the greater Niagara Region.
Ph.D. Yekeen, Shamsudeen Geospatial Intelligence of the Environment, Hydrology, Climate Change Hazard Management, Oil Spill Remote sensing, and Land Use Landcover.